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Give Till it Hurts, and Then Give Some More

One of my desires is to lead the most generous church on the planet. You may say that this seems a little audacious, but with the Lord’s help it is absolutely possible.

I’m not sure about your experience with giving and tithing at this point; you may or may not be a regular giver. But either way, giving is about stewardship and Lordship.

We are called to steward the blessings of God well, for He is Lord and we are not.

Why does He ask for a portion?

He asks because He knows what money can do to our lives. As broken and fallen people we have become dependent on money, so much so, that it becomes an idol in our lives.

God knows the danger for us, and in His mercy He rightly and wisely puts a regular discipline of giving into the rhythm of our life.

When we refuse to participate in this discipline we put ourselves in a compromised position. We ultimately reap the consequences and miss the blessings.

I remember when I was in seminary several years ago; one year, I literally made $3000. My wife was working at a bookstore for minimum wage and we were basically “American poor”.

But even in the midst of that, we were blessed. It was a simpler time. We didn’t have much, but life was good.

I remember times during that season when we literally didn’t have the money we needed to pay the bills. I also remember the goodness of God when we needed $100 for some bill. But one day we opened our front door to find an envelope sitting there with the exact amount of money we needed.

I also remember the tension around tithing. When you have so little It’s really hard to step out in faith. God knows this. Trust Him.

We learn to be generous when our giving costs us something. If we have everything, then giving might not be hard–unless the Lord requires you to give everything like he did with the Rich Young Ruler. However, it is when we have little that giving begins to form a generous heart. God uses these times as a fire where our faith and trust in Him are forged.

Sometimes I want to go back to that time in seminary; God’s love for us was so real and tangible during those days.

But then I realize, the Lord is moving in the same ways all around me as we step out to plant this church. God is blessing this church.

The Lord is providing for His people.
People pray for jobs and jobs come.
People pray for houses to sell and be rented and that is exactly what happens.

I remember an old spiritual that went something like–“He may not come when you want Him, but He’s right on time!”

Be encouraged today. God blesses us to be a blessing. Give generously and watch God work.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord does in your life as you step out in faith to trust God with your money. Remember the word in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Bring it in and watch God work!

Rain down your blessings, O God, so that we might be a blessing!

There is a button (Giving) at the top of this blog if you would like to start today! Gretchen and I use the online giving feature because it makes giving so easy to do. We just enter the amount and press a few buttons and you’re done; it’s ready to be used by God through the church for His kingdom’s expansion.

I also want to say thank you for your continued faithfulness and commitment to giving!



“It’s easier to give birth to a baby, than to resurrect the dead.”

Someone once said this in relationship to the church and the need for church planting.

Many people ask, “why do we need to plant churches when there are so many churches already?” The answer is that the church population continues to decline and yet the overall population continues to increase.

The need for church planting is critical. It is the single most effective way to evangelize. It is through starting new churches that we begin to make an impact on the church decline and begin to reach new generations.

Read over the following statistics:

• 84% of people live in urban areas or near urban areas.
• 70% of United Methodist Churches are in rural areas.

Some Questions:

• Where should we be spending our time and money planting churches?
• Does population matter? Why?
• Should we leave rural areas or come up with different models? Why?
• How many new successful churches do we need to plant to stop the decline?
• How could you support the starting of Elevation Church in St. Louis, MO?



A friends of mine sent me this article.  It’s worth the read; definitely forces us to think.

By the way–would you steal the menus?

Vol. 7, No. 28

Loving God in the Pub

As I write this, I am in England.  London, to be exact, finishing up a conference for pastors and church leaders.  It’s been a rich time, but it will be good to be back with my family and church this weekend.

I love England.

I love the history.  I love the English accent.  I love the cabs.  I love the double-decker buses and red phone booths.  I love the river Thames.  I love the quaint little villages.

And lest there be any doubt, I love the pubs.

One of my favorites is tucked away down the street from the center of one of the more well-known cities in England – Oxford.

Often called the city of “dreaming spires,” Oxford is one of the more beautiful cities on the planet.  Its medieval beginnings can still be felt when you walk down cobblestone walkways and through ancient colleges.

I have had the good fortune of being able to study there, and still do from time to time through various summer programmes.  I enjoy any and every hour possible in its famed Bodleian library, particularly the Radcliffe and Sir Richard Humphrey’s library.

But most of all, I return to spend the afternoons writing in my favorite Oxford pub, The Eagle and Child (affectionately known by locals as “The Bird and the Baby”), largely because of who went there before me.

As a plaque on the wall reads,

“C.S. Lewis, his brother, W.H. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and other friends met every Tuesday morning, between the years 1939-1962 in the back room of this their favorite pub.  These men, popularly known as the ‘Inklings,’ met here to drink beer and to discuss, among other things, the books they were writing.”

You will recognize the name of Tolkien as the author of The Lord of the Ringstrilogy.  C.S. Lewis will, hopefully, also be known to you through the movie of his life titled Shadowlands, his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia (also made into movies), as well as such works as The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity.  Williams is lesser known to most in our day, but he was greatly respected by the others and was the author of numerous works of fiction.

Another frame on the wall contains a note, dated November 3, 1948, which Lewis and others wrote to the owner:  “The undersigned, having just partaken of your ham, have drunk your health.”  This was signed by, among others, Lewis, Tolkien, and Tolkien’s son Christopher.

And drink they did, adding to the lively conversation and the banter that did not let ego gain too much of a foothold, for as one landlady overheard Lewis say to Tolkien, “Oh no, not another bloody elf story to read?”

It reminds me how one day, as I sat at my favorite little table, and another stream of tourists entered – and left – I heard the manager muttering, “Bloody Christians.”

I was enough of a regular to feel comfortable asking him what he meant.

“Take a look at this,” he said, holding up a menu.

“They cost me two pounds each.  Two pounds!  I ordered hundreds of them, and now I only have ten because they keep getting nicked.”  [I may need to explain – “nicked” means stolen.]

“You mean people are stealing them?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah, the bloody Christians take the menus, while the bloody students take the spoons and ashtrays.”

Understanding the obvious need students have for utensils, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why the menus?”

“I don’t know, it’s what they can get their hands on, I suppose,” he answered.  “It got so bad I started making copies of the menu that they could take – for free – but they still take the good ones.”

“I’m surprised they don’t try and take what’s on the walls, then,” I mused, looking at the pictures, plaque, and particularly the framed handwritten letter from Lewis, Tolkien, and others commemorating the day they had drunk to the barmaid’s health.

“Oh, those aren’t real,” he said, “just copies.  They still get taken.  I’d never put the real ones up.”

He paused a moment, and then said, “What gets me is that all these people who come in for Lewis are supposed to be Christians, right?”

Yes, I thought to myself, they are.

The irony is bitter; the manager of The Eagle and Child pub holds Christians and, one would surmise, Christianity itself, in disdain because of the behavior of the Christians who flock to pay homage to Lewis.

Christians who wouldn’t dare drink a pint, but would gladly steal.

As Lewis knew, loving Christ with your strength may have less to do with avoiding the beer, and more to do with leaving the menus.

~James Emery White

I Need a Doctor

Love him or hate him, Eminem is one of the best rappers/artists out there today.

Yes, his lyrics are extremely offensive, brutal, vulgar, sexist, and hurtful.  And he is definitely not someone you want your kids emulating.

Yet, even in the midst of all those things, his music is making an impact on our culture. Not only is he extremely talented, but his music is also ridiculously honest and raw.  His lyrics are stories of struggle, brokenness, hurt, and longing.  These all have to do with the human condition; which is why, in my opinion, he sells so many albums.

People relate because he is telling many of their own stories.

Am I giving him too much credit? …Maybe.  But there is something going on in his music that causes people to connect.  I am not saying we should condone this type of behavior, but I am saying we must LISTEN.

It is in the listening that we become learners, and when we become learners we can be light.

Did you get that?


If the church doesn’t become LIGHT in the darkness we will lose our core identity.  It is the mandate of God that the Church stand at the crossroads of Heaven and Hell and fight for the souls of men and women who are in the darkness.

If we won’t, who will?

Christ came to seek and save that which was lost.  He has given us this same ministry.  Let us take this cause, becoming listeners, learners, and light.

Let me give you example of what it might look like to exegete the culture:

Take the song “I Need a Doctor” by Eminem and Dr. Dre [the clean version of course] and listen to it.

It is a strong song about friendship, loyalty, devotion, weakness, strength, struggle, pain, betrayal, loss, etc.  It is also a song about never giving up on a friend, no matter the situation.  He is saying that NO MATTER THE COST, HE WILL NEVER LEAVE OR FORSAKE HIS FRIEND.

This is also s a redemptive song about the individual who has been beaten down by life, but now they are getting back up with the help of a friend.

And yes, there are also attributes that are evil and revengeful.

Yet, at the core of this song humanity is reflected as the lyrics paint an honest picture of the state of our culture.

It would not be hard to incorporate this into a conversation, a blog, a bible study, a sermon, or even worship.  The struggle isn’t necessarily ‘can we relate it to what we are doing’, it is more ‘will we’?  Will we risk “Christians” criticizing us or maybe even removing fellowship in order to reach people far from God?  People who are more inclined to listen to Eminem than they are to darken the doors of a church.

I struggle with this as much as the next person.  I want to isolate myself and my family from this world, but that isn’t the calling.  The calling is mission.  The essence of the Church is mission.  We must stand at the crossroads and communicate the gospel in the most effective way possible so that people might be saved and transformed by Christ.

Today, how could you listen more, learn more, and ultimately be the light in this dark world?

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